Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mind the Gap

Now that I’m a bona fide public transportation user, I thought it would be nice to pass on a few tips I’ve picked up along the way. . . Plus, who doesn’t love a good old fashion rhyming list?!

1. Don’t wait or you’ll be late: I should preface this by saying that I live off of the Northern Line and use it to get to work each day. As it turns out, the Northern Line happens to be infamous as the busiest and oldest line in London. Conveniently, no one told me that before I moved to the area (bummer). In the mornings is when it’s really an issue, trains are so jam packed that only 1-2 people can get on per set of doors whilst there are about 12 people per door waiting at any given time. This means that if you don’t push your way in and join the sardine can, train after train will pass you by. Before you know it you’ve been at the station for 30 minutes trying to leave, and you’re definitely going to be late for work! The mentality of waiting for ‘the next one’ so that you don’t have to jump on the full train just doesn’t quite work in London (at least not in the morning). You can always spot a tourist or newbie* because they’re the ones peering inside of a crowded train for an empty spot to stand whilst everyone else hops right on shoulder-to-shoulder passing them by.

2. Wide stance to avoid the dance: I know it sounds crazy, but I have seen people straight-up fall on the tube before, and I’m not just talking about that one time that it happened it DID NOT HAPPEN to me. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of jerking and swaying the train does whilst whizzing in and out of tunnels and stations. I’ve found the best way to keep your bearings is by standing with your feet about shoulder width or slightly further apart. It helps keep you balanced so you don’t end up having your feet jerked one way while your body ends up in someone’s lap. No matter how much you try to play it off like the footwork of a fancy new dance move, everyone will know you fell. Trust me, that is not fun.

3. White knuckle so you don’t buckle: Understandably, you may have sanitary concerns when reaching your hand out to grab onto the railing of a tube car. An attempt to just use your finger tips and not contaminate your entire palm seems like a good idea, but sadly, it doesn’t work so well. It takes a good solid grip on those railings in order to prevent you from toppling. If a carriage is super full and you don’t have enough room for a wide stance, then holding on very tightly may be your only option. Just keep hand sanitizer with you at all times and take advantage of any proximity to a sink and soap.

4. No lotion before the motion: That sounds like it has the potential to be inappropriate, aye? The lesson here is do NOT put on hand lotion before taking a tube. Even the slightest hint of slippery/greasy hands doesn’t mix with the need to grab on to the railings. The lotion and funk will undoubtedly combine to make a disgusting concoction that you don’t even want to begin thinking about. It is worth the wait to moisturize after you get wherever it is you’re going.

5. See a seat and move your feet: This is pretty much self explanatory. Trust that it’ll be worth sitting even if you only have a couple stops to go. You never know when you might get held at red signals which increase your journey time. As an added bonus, if you’re sitting down then you likely don’t need to worry about some of the tips above!

6. Eves drop and miss your stop: Also self explanatory. Yes it has happened to me, but I’m proud to say it’s only happened once. I’m not so proud to report that the convo I was listening to was barely interesting. It certainly wasn’t worth the back tracking I had to do because I missed the station I needed. Whoops!

See how helpful the rhyming is?! It makes the tips so much easier to remember, and now you’re well equipped to come for a visit. Grab your jackets and let’s do London Town up right!

*hmm, not sure I’ve lived here long enough to be able to say that.

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